'Big Will and Friends' to Explore Optical Effects, Environmental Impact of Wallpaper

Wallpaper by J.B. Louie for the exhibit "Big Will"

Wallpaper by Jonathan Louie for the exhibit "Big Will"

From Jan. 21 through Feb. 18, the Rodger Mack Gallery in Shaffer Art Building will feature the exhibition "Big Will and Friends," investigating the optical effects, figural relationships and illusions found in wallpaper, and ways in which these domestic images and decorations shape space and impact social relations. “Big Will and Friends” is a collaboration by Syracuse Architecture Assistant Professor Jonathan Louie and College of Visual and Performing Arts Professor Stephen Zaima. The opening will take place Jan. 21 at 5:15 p.m. and feature a series of dance performances choreographed by architecture student Stephanie White. “Big Will” is free and open to the public

Structured as a series of three 7-foot-by-7-foot shotgun house-type wallpapered rooms within the gallery’s linear space, it is affectionately named “Big Will” because it sits uncomfortably large in the space and takes up more space than it should. It will invite visitors to be part of, and alter, the perceptual and visual experience of the objects in the space. Through his work, Louie exploits the logics of wallpaper design to construct a habitable series of rooms, imprinted wearable suits and a series of wallpaper prints. Hung on the walls will be a series of architectural collages by artist Zaima.

Since its invention in the 18th century, wallpaper has been a popular medium for representing figures and historic symbols. It serves as an art form for altering architectural surfaces to perceptually alter the things people see. Says Louie, “Through two- and three-dimensional projections, the ‘Big Will’ installation challenges the ways in which decoration and adornment affects our perception of space—the floors, walls and ceilings around us.”

In addition to teaching, Louie is co-director of Architecture Office. He is one of four founding organizers for the On the Road Project, a platform for charging architectural experimentation outside of the mu­seum and institution. His graduate studies were done at the University of California Los Angeles, where he graduated with distinc­tion and is the recipient of the 2×8 Award and University Fellowship. In the fall of 2016, he will take up residency in Peterborough, N.H., as a Macdowell Colony Fellow.

As associate dean in VPA, Zaima is currently active with various global initiatives, especially in New York City. He was coordinator of the University’s studio arts program in London in 1987 and Florence in 1995-1996 and 1997-1998; more recently, he has taught in Berlin. Zaima received an M.F.A. from the University of California at Davis in 1971.

Dancers performing at the opening event are University students Stephanie White, Cameron Spera, Charlotte Brennan and Emily Pelletier.

The “Big Will and Friends” exhibition is made possible by support from the School of Architecture and the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

Share this story
Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+